Guiding Principles for Archival Access

Open by default

Start with open access to archival records and description, support the application of consistent, documented, and transparent restrictions.


Users should be able to adjust the level of mediation necessary for them to use archival records. Interfaces should allow users to self-serve if desired but also ask for expert help when it is needed.

Respect privacy

Minimize the amount and sensitivity of user data collected (including by and via third parties), and apply sensible data retention policies.


Support multiple pathways into and through description and records including people, organizations and subjects. Support multiple modes of inquiry including machines, humans and machine-assisted humans. Encourage and reward curiosity.

Responsive and accessible

Adapt to users’ needs and their devices.

Enhance archival processes

Enable reference staff to focus on identifiable core activities. Provide infrastructure to support other RAC initiatives.